August 28, 2022

The Person God Chooses

Passage: Acts 6:1-15

A newspaper group in Austria had its annual event of selecting the most beautiful woman in their region.  People were asked to send in pictures of the woman they thought was the most beautiful and they had to include a write-up why they thought so.  When all entries had been received the editor had the task of selecting the winner.  There were many pictures of attractive women and notes from proud husbands, children and other family members.  The editor looked at a picture of a woman that seemed she got scars from burning in a fire.  The note with the picture read, “My grandmother has the most beautiful face.  Those scars are beautiful to me, because when I was a baby my room caught on fire and she walked through the flames to rescue me.  To me she clearly has to be the winner.”  When the editor showed  his staff the entry he decided on, they were shocked and mumbled among themselves, but when they read the note they all agreed that the woman with the scars was the most beautiful.  This story is so much the opposite of how people in our world look at who they want to choose to associate with or who they want to be their choice.  But then God looks far differently of how He chooses people.  In 1 Samuel 16 we read about the king for Israel God had Samuel to go and anoint.  All the sons of Jesse were lined up and surely there had to be a prospect to be the next king.  But we read in verse 7 what the Lord said to Samuel – "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.  The Lord does not look at the things man looks at.  Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  And so Samuel was led by God to ask, "Are these all the sons you have?"  We all know the story of how they went to get David and he was anointed.  Though he was not even close to be a prospect of his father or others, in God eyes he was to be The Person He wanted to choose.

In Acts 6: 1-15 we find a man who was The Person God Chose.  His name was Stephen and he was one of the first deacons.  From his life there is so much to learn of how he lived up to be The Person God Chooses.  Luke fist tells us in this chapter that Stephen was Full Of Grace.  What does it mean to be full of God's grace?  You see, when the church in Jerusalem chose the first 7 deacons it was in particular Stephen who stood out.  He was said to be a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit.  Yes, Stephen was like an overflowing fountain and blessing upon blessing came from his life.  God blessed so many people by His grace that came from the heart of an ordinary person.  You know quite often we wonder if there is anything good that can come from our lives and we are so wrong.  We have blessed more people than what we can ever imagine.  Has anyone ever told you that he could see Jesus in your life?  If your answer is yes, that was the time when your heart full of grace could be seen. That I think is the way many people would describe the life of Mother Teresa – of how blessings flowed from her heart that wasn't just from her, but from God.  She was truly what we sing about in the hymn, “Make me a channel of Your peace.”  Peace flowed from her Godgiven life and she gave love where it was so needed.  You know my friends, we are called to live up to the standard of The Person God Chose.  How can we be full of grace?  By surrendering to God our entire lives and not to hold anything back and to allow Him to fill our hearts.  Can you remember what Jesus told the people on the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles?  We read about that in John 7: 38, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  I like the way we find it here in the New International Version – “...rivers of living water...”  Some translations say “...streams of living water...”, but it is truly like a river flowing from your heart when God's grace fills your life.  The Greek word in John 7: 38 is potamoi and it's translated as a river.

Luke tells us that Stephen, The Person God Chose, did Great Work In God's Kingdom.  In front of the people of his time, Stephen was enabled by God to do these wonders of speaking in tongues, healing deceases and even casting out demons in the name of Jesus Christ.  Why did God enable him to do all those things in the presence of others?  So that they could know that he was truly from God, that he truly represented God and wasn't one of those false teachers and healers that just wanted to impress people with their abilities. To them it was just about a show-off.  No, he was from God.  You know, this reminds us so much of what Jesus said on more than one occasion about Him doing miracles that people could believe that He was the One sent by the Father.  Wouldn’t that be something to be able to perform miracles?  A boy was sitting on a park bench with one hand resting on an open Bible.  He was loudly exclaiming his praise to God. "Hallelujah! Hallelujah! God is great!", he yelled without worrying whether anyone heard him or not.  Shortly after, along came a man who had recently completed some scientific studies at a local university.  Feeling himself very enlightened in the ways of truth and very eager to show this enlightenment, he asked the boy about the source of his joy.  "Don’t you have any idea what God is able to do?  I just read that God opened up the waves of the Red Sea and led the whole nation of Israel right through the middle.  Isn't that with hundreds and hundreds of other things enough reason to praise God?” The enlightened man laughed lightly, sat down next to the boy and began to try to open his eyes to the "realities" of the miracles of the Bible.  "That can all be very easily explained.  Modern scholarship has shown that the Red Sea in that area was only 10-inches deep at that time.  It was no problem for the Israelites to get across."  The man, contented that he had enlightened a poor, naive young person to the finer points of scientific insight, turned to go.  Scarcely had he taken two steps when the boy began to rejoice and praise louder than before.  The man turned to ask the reason for this resumed jubilation.  "Wow!" exclaimed the boy happily, "God is greater than I thought!  Not only did He lead the whole nation of Israel through the Red Sea, He topped it off by drowning the whole Egyptian army in 10 inches of water!"  Let God be the One in charge of miracles.  We don't have to perform miracles like Stephen or any of the apostles to meet God's standards as some believe.  No, all we have to do is to get involved in people's lives and witness how God Himself will do miracles in their lives.  I have seen those miracles of how God healed people who humanly spoken couldn't be healed and how someone no one thought was possible, made a decision to follow Jesus.  Like Stephen, God just wants us to go to people.  To those in hospitals, care homes and institutions it's sometimes like a miracle from God when Christian workers, pastors and other workers go to them.  Do you want to be that miracle worker of God to others?  That a person in need that would say, “Jesus came to me”, if we just would go and make a difference.

Let's all answer this question, “Do we feel like we were chosen by God for something special?”  There is only one answer, “Yes.”  Because God wants us to do great things for Him.

Do you believe that you can make a difference?  Live up to the potential God gave you.



Rev. Willem H. van de Wall